PASSIVE EUTHANASIA: AN ANALYSIS
Updated: Jun 8
Author: Ishita Gupta, I year of B.A.,LL.B(Hons) from Vivekananda Institute Of Professional Studies ,GGSIPU.
Should a man have the right to die, in addition to the right to live? Is he, above all, entitled to a peaceful death? Is it a felony or an unpunishable act to deprive someone of their life on the basis of mercy? All these questions are often raised when euthanasia is discussed.
Hence, in this world euthanasia has become a topic of debate and has taken the world by storm. Recently the 2018 Indian judgement on legalizing passive euthanasia has been seen as a victory of passive euthanasia in India.
before answering all such questions or dwelling into any type of debate, it is important to understand the term euthanasia and passive euthanasia as both the terms involve various legal and social aspects in them. Euthanasia literally means good death and is derived from two ancient Greek words –‘Eu’ meaning good and ‘thantos’ meaning death. Euthanasia is ‘a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending life to relieve intractable suffering’. euthanasia can be classified as voluntary, involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia.
voluntary euthanasia means where the patient expressly requests that his or her life be taken away. Involuntary Euthanasia means euthanasia without consent where an individual on behalf of another makes the decision to do so and, lastly, in non-voluntary situations the individual's express consent is not valid, such as when the person is in a persistent vegetative state.
Both voluntary and involuntary euthanasia can be conducted either passively or actively. Active euthanasia refers to the use of legal drugs or coercion to kill a human and regarded as a controversial method, whereas passive refers to the withholding of common procedures, such as antibiotics, that are required for life to continue.
In various historical eras, the importance of a normal lifespan and the acceptability of heroic, voluntary death and divine, self-willed death were regarded differently.
Although euthanasia was treated favourably in classical Hinduism, by the 10th century CE, significant opposition had arisen, suggesting that it had been exploited, either as a form of euthanasia or in other forms of heroic and religious self-willed death. Euthanasia in the sense of "right to leave" by those suffering from an otherwise incurable disease or facing a grim old age was common in classical India. As a result, euthanasia was known as self-inflicted suicide rather than mercy killing of another human being. India's great prophets, sages, and seers have practiced divine philosophy since the beginning of time. Many of them have possessed ichcha mrityu, the greatest human virtue of being able to command death at will.
Vinoba Bhave, who fasted before death, was also a self-willed death practitioner. Both the Pandavas and Kauravas' ancestor and guru were beckoned to death after the victory of good over evil and dharma (righteousness) over adharma (sin), and after being freed from obligations and duties to humanity and the kingdom, according to the Mahabharata. However, several years later, as India was under British rule, attitudes toward euthanasia shifted.
With the implementation of British law in India, it became an illegal act under the Penal Code when suicide was considered to encompass all forms of self-inflicted death.
Religions consider it crucial to comprehend death and dying in order to find meaning in life. Since Indian culture is primarily religious, understanding the role of euthanasia in India through the prism of different religions is crucial before debating its legal status. Hinduism is faith that the vast majority of Indians believe in and practice. Pray-upavasa, or death fasting, is a "natural way for Hindus to end their lives only under such circumstances," according to Hindu tradition. Other traditions, such as Sati Pratha, depicted the absurdities of euthanasia. Where a woman chose death at. In ancient India, it was sanctioned both religiously and socially.
There had been some other ways where saints, sages, seers and sadhus had taken Samadhi and Jal Samaadhi. These ideas seem to be closer to the euthanasia theory practiced in Hinduism. There are offshoots of "the right to leave".There is another stream of Hindu religio-philosophic thought in which various points of view are held. It has been adopted that an individual can only achieve salvation or mukti and moksh from the cycle of rebirth if he or she dies naturally, according to Hindu religious belief. A Hindu cannot choose an inflicted death as a result of suicide, assisted suicide, or involuntary death, according to religious beliefs and customs, just put an end to it or murder people on the basis of mercy. Santhara is a type of euthanasia recognized by the Jain religion, an ancient Indian theocratic order.
After instinctively knowing death was coming, one is “presumed to willingly shunning all of life's temptations—food, water, emotions, bonds—under this Jain belief system." It is thought to have been practiced since Jainism's inception. The followers believe that “when all of life's purposes have been fulfilled, “served, or when the body is no longer capable of serving some function, an individual may choose it.”Santhara is simply a matter of dying with dignity, and it may be done in the event of a terminal disease or impending death, starvation or lack of food, or old age with loss of autonomy.
Euthanasia is prohibited by Islam's socio-legal structure. The Islamic sharia asserts that human life is holy and inviolable in no uncertain words. It is forbidden to take a life that Allah has made holy unless it is in the course of justice.
The Christians' religion forbids the killing of any innocent person, even though that person wishes to die. It is a part of a person's belief system. Christians believe “Birth and death are part of the life cycles that God has created,”
Despite the fact that the law occurs in many nations, it has become a sleeping giant in India, where euthanasia takes place behind closed doors. Its attitude in India was mainly shaped through the following cases. In the Prathinam case, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court also supported the High Court ruling striking down Section 309 as unconstitutional, which deals with attempting suicide. But in the Gian Kaur case the verdict was reversed in 1996. The right to live does not require "the right to death" or "the right to be killed," according to a five-member Constitution Bench. It was in 2011, in the landmark case of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union of India, that the path for passive euthanasia was opened in India.
The court devised a complex strategy for approving passive euthanasia and determined that only such conditions should be met. The judges stated that the High Court should, in their view, grant permission for the removal of life support assistance to a mentally ill patient. They also stated that if such an application is submitted, the Chief Justice of the High Court should appoint a two-judge bench to determine whether or not to grant permission.
Before making a decision, the committee should get the approval of three reputable physicians, one of whom should be a physician, one a psychiatrist, and one a neurologist.
Finally, in the case of Common Cause vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India permitted passive euthanasia and allowed the elimination of life support devices for terminally ill or in incurable coma patients. The Supreme Court of India ruled in this case that a resident has the right to die with dignity as part of his or her right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The preceding clarification and observation demonstrate that death is unavoidable and will strike us all at some point. And it is a fact that we all want to die in a happy and dignified manner. The goal of medical care is to heal the patient; if that fails, it seeks to save the patient's life. Rest and pain relief for the patient are promoted. It can be concluded that passive euthanasia was legalized for individuals' rights. Every person who has a Right to Life should also have a universal right to relief from pain and suffering. Euthanasia is the process of ending one's life in an ecstatic manner. The crux of the issues is that the patient's immediate relatives want to console him or her. Whether by healing or inevitable merciful killing.
Despite the fact that the state considers saving the lives of its people to be its obligation and sole responsibility as a welfare state, it is high time to recognize that intentionally holding someone alive in the most excruciating condition against his or her will is a form of torture. In order to prevent relatives or close relatives, or even physicians, from abusing the euthanasia option, a euthanasia panel made up of qualified doctors, lawyers, and a government representative must be created.
A decision will be taken on a case-by-case basis. If an individual is no longer capable of giving informed consent for euthanasia, the legal guardian or close relatives and family members may make the decision on his behalf, and if they are unable to do so, the case should be taken to court. Palliative care advancements can be a viable option for patients whose quality of life is diminishing. Palliative treatment seeks to alleviate pain, while passive euthanasia aims to terminate it.
To maintain consistency in the evaluation of various state committees, members of the committees from various states must be expected to meet on a regular basis. The government should keep track of such meetings and the number of cases where passive euthanasia is allowed or forbidden in various jurisdictions.